Hague hopes for Iranian nuclear settlement


Foreign Secretary William Hague has said he hopes the new Iranian government will make efforts to reach a negotiated settlement on its nuclear programme following the election of its new president.

"If Iran is prepared to make that choice, we are prepared to respond in good faith," Mr Hague told the Commons.

Reformist-backed Hassan Rouhani was elected as president of Iran on 14 June, winning just over 50% of the vote.

The foreign secretary was summoned to make a statement on UK government policy towards Iran after an urgent question by Labour MP Jack Straw on 17 June 2013.

Mr Straw, a former foreign secretary, said Dr Rouhani's government could be a "positive force", and that the new president has made clear he wants a "fresh start" on the nuclear front.

Mr Hague acknowledged Dr Rouhani had made "positive remarks" about the need to resolve Iran's nuclear programme, but said Iran would have to be judged on its action and not its words.

He suggested current sanctions against Iran could be lifted if progress is made, but warned that further sanctions would be applied "if we cannot resolve the nuclear issue".

Asked by Mr Straw whether Britain would re-open its embassy in Tehran, the foreign secretary said the UK would have to guarantee the safety of embassy staff before such a decision could be taken.

Some 72.2% of the 50 million eligible Iranian voters cast ballots to choose the successor to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

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